Re: Not So Free After All
Travis, you're right that students at many colleges and universities are left "unprotected." Dr. Vigen Guroian, a professor at Loyola College in Maryland and fellow of the Wilberforce Forum, writes about the "dorm brothel" problem in the current issue of BreakPoint WorldView magazine in article titled "After Hours on Campus: The Sexualization of the American College." (Worldview readers, chime in with your thoughts on the article!)
Sensational stories about the aggressive sex of athletes and debauchery in fraternity houses or at off-campus clubs spotlight only the tip of an iceberg. Sex is deeply and seriously disordered at the basic level of college life. As one young Loyola College co-ed wrote, “Here we can do everything we were told at home was wrong, and no one really cares, and no one is responsible. It’s like we live in a glass bubble; only no one looks in.”
What goes on every day in co-ed dormitories and apartments is far more significant than what comes into public view. How colleges structure and arrange student life and the supervision, or lack thereof, that they give to our sons and daughters determines a lot about their behavior at college and the attitudes toward the opposite sex that they take with them into life.
College experience has an impact on the marriages our sons and daughters make, and it contributes to the divorces with which many of those marriages end. The statistics are irrefutable. Sexual promiscuity and pre-marital cohabitation are strong predictors of marital trouble and divorce. It is at college that many young people first experiment with cohabitation and become accustomed to multiple sex partners.
And don't think this is just a problem on campuses with coed housing. As one student wrote to Dr. Guroian,
I am a senior at ______, a small historically black college and university. I cannot say that the rules it has in place for students is anything like those described at other colleges. Students living on campus have a curfew; the campus separates the “boys’ side” from the “girls’ side,” meaning that in order to get to a girl dorm, boys must walk over a mile.
There are visitation hours monitored by a security guard and dorm director. Nevertheless, during those unsupervised hours of visitation occur the most rampant sexual escapades known to man.
It's also not just a problem at secular universities. Christian colleges and universities also have risks. But as one parent and campus physician wrote to Dr. Guroian,
As a physician familiar with the college health setting and adolescent/young adult medicine, I can readily attest that there is an extremely high medical price for collegiates to pay for living out the risk behaviors described in the article. . . . Amid free-flowing alcohol that quickly impairs the judgment of young men and women, there is the stormy sea of intoxications, sexually transmitted infections, infertility, unintended pregnancies, abortions, HIV, AIDS, depression, suicide, accidental deaths in an ocean of brokenness.
As the one student above illustrates, eliminating coed dorms will not solve the problem, though it would be a big step forward. And just sequestering students at Christian colleges or single-sex universities also doesn't answer the problem.
Parents need to nag their undergrad students (don't worry about your popularity with them -- their future is at stake); a good time for a frank, open talk may be this next month while they're home between semesters (notice how we timed the WorldView article). And if you have a son, be obnoxious about your expectations of him, to treat women with respect and hold the higher standard at his school among his peers. Encourage them to have an accountability peer group (see www.collegewalk.com) or to get to know their dorm parents or another surrogate parent couple near their college to whom they can turn.
And alumni and professors, nag your universities to make real changes to prioritize the well-being of students -- from providing single-sex housing to cracking down on underage drinking, and other ideas that come to mind. Of course, there's more leeway on actions to take at Christian schools. But for the secular ones, hold their feet to the fire. Publicly shame a known problem. Maybe a letter-to-the-editor with information about a problem at the local university to spotlight it.